GOP to retain control of House
Republicans took control in 2010
Republicans will maintain majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, as votes were still being tallied for a number of races.
While the GOP keeps control, a number of moderates on both sides lost, which is likely to make the House even more polarized.
For example, Rep. Larry Kissell, a moderate North Carolina Democrat, lost his bid for reelection, as did Reps. Charlie Bass, R-New Hampshire, and "Bob" Dold Jr., R-Illinois.
Some of the tea party-backed GOP freshmen who had helped their party secure control two years ago were given the heave-ho Tuesday by voters. They include Reps. Joe Walsh and Bobby Shilling of Illinois, Anne Marie Buerkle and Nan Hayworth of New York and Francisco Canseco of Texas.
House Republicans lost in states that President Barack Obama won handily, including four GOP seats in Illinois. At least five Democratic incumbents also lost -- Rep. Ben Chandler of Kentucky; Rep. Larry Kissell of North Carolina, Rep. Leonard Boswell of Iowa, Rep. Kathy Hochul of New York and Rep. Mark Critz of Pennsylvania.
Winners included Rep. John Barrow, a Georgia moderate Democrat; Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who has been receiving treatment for a mood disorder; and Joseph Kennedy III of Massachusetts.
"With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there is no mandate for raising tax rates," Speaker John Boehner told supporters at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington.
He had told CNN on Sunday that the GOP "might" pick up more seats in the House.
"I feel pretty good about at least maintaining the numbers that we have," Boehner said then. "After winning 65 seats from the Democrats in the 2010 cycle, and all the experts been talking about how many seats we're going to lose -- five, 10, 15 -- but I never bought into the idea that we had to lose any seats."
After Obama was declared the winner, Boehner issued a statement that made no mention of taxes, but did focus on the economy. "If there is a mandate, it is a mandate for both parties to find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs, which is critical to solving our debt," he said.
"Americans were unwilling to hand the speaker's gavel back to Nancy Pelosi because her party chose to double down on the same failed policies that caused her to lose it in the first place," said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas, in a statement, referring to the minority leader. "Just as in 2010, our House Republican candidates listened to the American people and rejected the Democrats' tax-and-spend agenda that threatens the American Dream."
Going into the election, Republicans controlled the House by 242-193. Though all 435 members faced voters on Tuesday, control of the chamber rested on some 50 to 60 races that were considered competitive, some of them because of redistricting.
The number of swing districts has shrunk in recent years as GOP legislatures have shored up their seats and Democratic-led state houses have strengthened their party's districts.
Democrats needed to pick up 25 Republican seats to regain control.
Pelosi and other Democrats noted that 58 Republicans represent districts won by Obama in 2008; they pointed to those wins as a template to a successful election night, but by shortly after 9 p.m., CNN projected that they would not achieve their goal.
David Wasserman, who analyzes House races for the Cook Political Report, said Democrats were waging competitive campaigns in just 32 of those districts -- not enough to regain control of the House.
Stuart Rothenberg, an independent campaign analyst, projected last week that Democrats would gain two to eight seats.
The battleground for many of these House races had tilted increasingly toward the Northeast and the Midwest, after a number of moderate Democrats lost in Southern districts in the 2010 midterms.
In Illinois, Democrats saw opportunities to defeat tea party freshman Rep. Joe Walsh, seven-term Rep. Judy Biggert and a moderate Republican freshman, Rep. Bob Dold.
Democrats also set their sights on freshmen Reps. Nan Hayworth, Chris Gibson, Ann Marie Buerkle, and Michael Grimm in New York.
Democratic campaign officials predicted they could upset several GOP incumbents in California.
But California Rep. Xavier Becerra, one of Pelosi's top lieutenants, acknowledged, "We'd need a wind" to get the kind of gains that would put Democrats back in control.
Tea party fades as 2012 factor
Two years after the tea party helped Republicans seize control of the House, it had faded as a factor.
House Republican candidates were still stressing the core issues that the tea party movement pushed in 2010 -- less government and a focus on cutting federal spending and the deficit -- but Republican candidates were "not wearing the tea party label on their sleeves," one senior GOP strategist working on House races said recently.
Democrats, bolstered by polling that shows that many voters blame the tea party for gridlock in Washington, had tried to try to pin the label on virtually every Republican incumbent and challenger.
The "Tea Party Republican Congress has a 13% approval rating," House Democrats' campaign chief Rep. Steve Israel of New York told reporters last month. He said Democrats had a chance to regain the majority because "there is a deep sense of buyer's remorse spreading throughout this country."
With the bulk of this cycle's competitive races concentrated in districts represented by more moderate members of each party, the outcome of this election could mean an even more polarized House in 2013.
The GOP conference could include more conservatives and fewer moderate Democrats, whose ranks were decimated in 2010. That could tilt the Democratic caucus leftward.
A recent study by the Cook Political Report found that the number of swing districts in the nation dropped from 164 to 99 over the past 14 years. That decline has widened the ideological divide between the two parties.
"There's a remarkable reduction in the number of members who have an incentive to compromise," Wasserman told CNN.
Key House race snapshots
Arizona 1: Jonathan Paton (R) vs. Former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D)
Open Republican-held seat
This redrawn district covers most of northern and eastern Arizona. The Democratic nominee was Ann Kirkpatrick, who was elected in 2008 and was swept out in the Republican wave two years later. The Republican nominee was Jonathan Paton, a former state senator. Kirkpatrick had a sizable fundraising advantage over Paton, but national Republicans invested heavily to help close the gap in TV ads. This seat was a top priority for both parties.
Arizona 2: Rep. Ron Barber (D) vs. Martha McSally (R)
Democrat Gabrielle Giffords would have run here had she sought a fourth term. Giffords is recovering after being shot in January 2011 in Arizona. Her district director Ron Barber, who was also wounded, won a special election to fill her seat when she resigned last January. His opponent was Republican Martha McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and combat pilot. Barber had a financial advantage at the start of October though McSally remained competitive on the airwaves. Still, Barber was expected to win.
Arizona 9: Kyrsten Sinema (D) vs. Vernon Parker (R)
The battle for this new district pitted Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, a former state senator, against Republican Vernon Parker, the former mayor of Paradise Valley. Both parties invested heavily in the race, though a Democratic super PAC tipped the TV ad war balance of power slightly in the Democrat's favor.
California 30: Rep. Brad Sherman (D) vs. Rep. Howard Berman (D)
One of the nastiest House races of 2012 was between two incumbent Democrats due to redistricting and the state's new primary system, in which the top two finishers advanced to the general election. Rep. Brad Sherman had at least one advantage over Rep. Howard Berman: He represented more of the redrawn Sherman Oaks-area district. Sherman won the primary with 42.4% of the vote compared with 32.4% for Berman. The remaining votes were split among five candidates. The race hit a nasty patch last month, when the two men shouted at each other at a public forum.
California 31: Rep. Gary Miller (R) vs. Bob Dutton (R)
Seven-term incumbent Rep. Gary Miller faced a tough challenge from a fellow Republican in a race also determined by California's new primary system. Miller's opponent is Bob Dutton, a state senator and businessman. Miller represented none of this redrawn district, while Dutton represented much of it in the state legislature.
California 36: Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R) vs. Raul Ruiz (D)
Rep. Mary Bono Mack, seeking an eighth full term in the House, was a frequent target of Democrats hoping to pick off a Republican in a Democratic district. This year, she found herself fending off a strong challenge from Democrat Raul Ruiz, a Mexican-American, Harvard-educated physician. But Bono Mack survived strong challenges before and has a moderate voting record. She also prevailed over Ruiz in her first one-on-one matchup, the June "top-two" primary in which they appeared together on the same ballot.
California 44: Rep. Laura Richardson (D) vs. Rep. Janice Hahn (D)
Redistricting forced another pair of Democratic incumbents to face off this November. Rep. Janice Hahn won a July 2011 special election to replace retiring Democratic Rep. Jane Harman. Rep. Laura Richardson was elected in a 2007 special election to replace the late Juanita Millender-McDonald. Hahn appeared to have an advantage due, in part, to an ongoing ethics saga for Richardson that resulted in a reprimand and $10,000 fine by the House Ethics Committee for campaign finance violations involving her congressional staff. Hahn also enjoyed a huge fundraising and cash-on-hand advantage at the start of October. Hahn trounced Richardson in the primary.
Florida 9: Former Rep. Alan Grayson (D) vs. Todd Long (R)
In just one term in Congress, Democrat Alan Grayson mastered the art of making headlines with his blunt and abrasive rhetorical style. During the debate over health care, he said the Republican health care plan was, "Don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly." He also said on CNN that Republicans were "foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals." In a 2010 TV ad, he called his Republican opponent, Daniel Webster, "Taliban Dan." Although he quickly became a hero among liberals, Grayson went on to lose his bid for a second term by a staggering 18 points.
Grayson was running in a new district in the Orlando suburbs and his Republican opponent was Todd Long, an attorney, small businessman and conservative radio show host.
Florida 18: Rep. Allen West (R) vs. Patrick Murphy (D)
Rep. Allen West was a top target for Democrats The freshman Republican's sharp rhetoric during his first term did not endear him to colleagues across the aisle. For instance, West last summer e-mailed Democratic National Committee Chairman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz that she was "the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives." West's Democratic opponent was Patrick Murphy, a businessman and executive with a construction firm.
Florida 26: Rep. David Rivera (R) vs. Joe Garcia (D)
The race in Florida's southernmost congressional district was a rematch of 2010, but the dynamics could not have been more different. Republican incumbent David Rivera was elected in the Republican wave two years ago. Democrat Joe Garcia, a former Miami-Dade County Democratic party chairman, lost by nine points. The key difference this time was that Rivera was dogged by scandal and ethics issues. The district is still Republican-friendly and Garcia entered the final stretch in better position than two years ago.
Georgia 12: Rep. John Barrow (D) vs. Lee Anderson (R)
Moderate Georgia Democratic Rep. John Barrow was reelected to a fifth term in the House on Tuesday, and is the last white male Democrat from the Deep South in the House of Representatives, CNN projects. The remaining Democratic congressmen from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia are African-Americans.
The member of the "Blue Dog" Democrats, the group of fiscal conservatives in the House, has faced strong Republican challenges every cycle, and this year Republican Lee Anderson got 46% to Barrow's 54%. Both parties put considerable resources into the race.
Though Barrow survived this year, the ranks of moderate Democrats have dwindled in the House, and fellow blue dog Larry Kissell lost his race in North Carolina.
Barrow had been fighting for his political life in this heavily Republican district, which is far better than Republicans had expected would be the case when they drew the district's boundaries.
Illinois 2: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) vs. Brian Woodworth (R)
Despite a lengthy absence from Capitol Hill due to illness, Democratic Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. will easily hold on to his Illinois seat, CNN projects.
Jackson was projected to defeated handily GOP contender Brian Woodworth, an attorney and university professor. Woodworth had criticized Jackson during the campaign for leaving the district unrepresented.
The nine-term congressman has been away from Congress and largely out of the public eye since May. His office said in June that he was taking a leave of absence, and the Mayo Clinic disclosed in August that he was suffering from depression.
Jackson is being investigated in separate cases for possible financial and ethical improprieties.
The FBI and federal prosecutors in Washington are investigating Jackson for possible financial improprieties, according to a law enforcement official.
The House Ethics Committee is looking into allegations that, in 2008, Jackson or one of his associates offered to raise money for then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for Jackson being appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.
Illinois 8: Rep. Joe Walsh (R) vs. Tammy Duckworth (D)
Freshman Republican Joe Walsh was high on the list of most endangered GOP incumbents. Walsh barely won his seat in 2010 and redistricting has made it more Democratic. He had the additional misfortune of running in a presidential election year when favorite son Barack Obama was heading the ticket for the other party. Walsh made headlines with a number of controversial statements, including his assertion that medical science has advanced to the point where abortions are never necessary to save a woman's life. Democrat Tammy Duckworth, a decorated Iraq war veteran, led in fundraising and entered the final stretch with an advantage.
Illinois 10: Rep. Robert Dold (R) vs. Brad Schneider (D)
Republican Robert Dold won this Democratic-friendly district in the Republican wave of 2010, replacing fellow Republican Mark Kirk, who ran for the U.S. Senate. The redrawn district is more Democrat-friendly, but Dold kept the race competitive. His Democratic opponent was businessman Brad Schneider, who emerged battered from a competitive primary. Dold entered the final month of the campaign with a huge cash advantage but Schneider has benefited from sizable TV ad buys from the national Democratic Party and from a pro-Democrat super PAC.
Iowa 3: Rep. Tom Latham (R) vs. Rep. Leonard Boswell (D)
Iowa was one of 10 states to lose seats in Congress because of redistricting, setting up a member-on-member showdown between two veteran lawmakers in a merged Des Moines-area district. Democrat Leonard Boswell represented much of this new district in the late 1990s. Republican Tom Latham had a fundraising advantage due in part to his friendship with Boehner. The cash advantage was apparent on the airwaves, where Latham outspent Boswell, even when counting the considerable assistance the Democrat received from his national party. Boswell is no stranger to tight races. He survived the Republican wave of 2010.
Iowa 4: Rep. Steve King (R) vs. Christie Vilsack (D)
Republican incumbent Steve King's bid for a sixth term in Congress was his toughest. King won re-election in his old western Iowa district with 66% of the vote in 2010, and he never dipped below 59% in any of his previous races. This year, he faced a new district and a tough new challenger in Democrat Christie Vilsack, Iowa's former first lady and the wife of U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The good news for King was that his enormous new district in the northwest part of the state comprises mostly counties won in 2008 by John McCain. King had a fundraising advantage over Vilsack. But Vilsack was the strongest candidate Democrats could have fielded.
Louisiana 3: Rep. Charles Boustany (R) vs. Rep. Jeff Landry (R)
As in California, redistricting and a "top-two" primary system forced two incumbent lawmakers of the same party into a November showdown. Republican Charles Boustany, a surgeon elected in 2004, faced freshman Republican Jeff Landry, an attorney and businessman, former police officer and tea party favorite. Boustany represented more of the new district than did Landry, but the freshman proved he was capable of pulling off surprises when he defeated the better-known former Louisiana House speaker in the 2010 primary. Under state law, the November election serves as an open primary, in which the top two finishers will advance to a December runoff if no one gets a majority.
Maryland 6: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R) vs. John Delaney (D)
Republican Roscoe Bartlett's bid for an 11th term appears to have been his last. The long-time western Maryland representative was a target for Democrats who redrew the district last year. As a result, his once-safe seat now stretches from the state's westernmost point to include a piece of heavily Democratic Montgomery County and now reaches almost to the District of Columbia border. His Democratic opponent was John Delaney, a wealthy businessman. Delaney pulled off an upset in the Democratic primary over Rob Garagiola, a state senator with a string of endorsements from party establishment types, including Gov. Martin O'Malley. Bartlett had little hope of pulling off a miracle.
Massachusetts 4: Joe Kennedy III (D) vs. Sean Bielat (R)
Open Democratic-held seat
After a two-year absence, the famed Kennedy family once again has an elected representative in national politics.
Joe Kennedy III will serve Massachusetts' 4th district, having handily defeated GOP opponent Sean Bielat, according to a CNN projection. The seat became open when longtime Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, who has been a leading proponent of financial regulations, announced this year that he was retiring.
Kennedy is the 32-year-old grandson of slain Sen. Robert Kennedy of New York. His great-uncles are the late President John F. Kennedy and long-time Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, who died in office in 2009.
Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island left office in January 2011, ending his family's 64-year streak of service in the U.S. Congress.
Joe Kennedy is a former prosecutor and Peace Corps member; Bielat is a businessman and Marine Corps reservist.
Massachusetts 6: Rep. John Tierney (D) vs. Richard Tisei (R)
Rep. John Tierney was in danger of becoming the first Democrat since 1994 to lose a U.S. House race in Massachusetts. The eight-term incumbent was dogged by a financial scandal involving his wife and her brothers and an illegal gambling operation. The Republican nominee was Richard Tisei, a former state senator who is openly gay. Tierney was targeted by more than $3 million in ads this cycle from Tisei, the national Republican Party and pro-Republican groups, eager to defeat a Democrat in Massachusetts. The district is Democratic but the ongoing scandal appeared to have taken a toll. A September Boston Globe/University of New Hampshire poll had Tisei with 37%, Tierney with 30% and 30% undecided.
Minnesota 6: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) vs. Jim Graves (D)
Tea party favorite Michele Bachmann was a shoo-in for re-election when she folded up her presidential campaign in January. Ten months later, Bachmann still had the advantage but she faced a tough challenger in Jim Graves, a wealthy businessman. Graves waged a competitive race in October, spending $1.2 million in TV ads, compared with $1.7 million for Bachmann. The conservative congresswoman had never posted huge numbers on Election Night, but redistricting made her district slightly more Republican. Nevada 4: Steven Horsford (D) vs. Danny Tarkanian (R)
There was a competitive race in Nevada's newest congressional district. The nominees were Democrat Steven Horsford, the state senate majority leader, and Republican Danny Tarkanian, a businessman and son of UNLV basketball coaching legend Jerry Tarkanian. The younger Tarkanian was a 2010 U.S. Senate candidate, but placed third in the Republican primary. The two candidates had been evenly matched in terms of fundraising as well as assistance from their national parties and from outside groups in terms of TV ads. The district leans slightly Democratic.
New Hampshire 1: Rep. Frank Guinta (R) vs. Former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D)
As was the case in 2010, Republican Frank Guinta and Democrat Carol Shea-Porter faced off in the battle for New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District. This time, Guinta was the incumbent and Shea-Porter the challenger. Shea-Porter was elected in the Democratic wave of 2006 and served two terms before losing to Guinta in 2010, 54%-42%. The two were fairly evenly matched in fundraising.
New Hampshire 2: Rep. Charlie Bass (R) vs. Ann McLane Kuster (D)
Republican incumbent Charlie Bass faced Ann McLane Kuster. Kuster lost to Bass in the general election in 2010 but ran again, and outraised Bass, though they started October with roughly the same amount in the bank. The Democrat far outspent her opponent on the airwaves even though the national Republican Party invested funds on behalf of Bass.
New York 24: Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R) vs. Former Rep. Dan Maffei (D)
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle was elected in the Republican wave of 2010 and had to defend her seat Tuesday from the man she defeated. Democrat Dan Maffei, a longtime Capitol Hill staffer, won this upstate New York district in 2008 after it had been in Republican hands for almost 30 years. He lost the seat to nurse and tea party favorite Buerkle in one of the closest House races that year. The two had been evenly matched in fundraising and TV ad spending. The district leans slight more Democratic.
North Carolina 7: Rep. Mike McIntyre (D) vs. David Rouzer (R)
Democratic Mike McIntyre ran a competitive race despite a newly redrawn district that skews heavily Republican. The Republican nominee was David Rouzer, a state senator. McIntyre, an eight-term incumbent, led in fundraising and kept even with ad spending by pro-Republican outside groups and the national Republican Party. Rouzer stayed off the airwaves. Like fellow southern Democrat John Barrow in Georgia, McIntyre showed strong signs of life in a district that appeared to have been drawn to end his career.
Ohio 9: Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) vs. Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher (R)
Samuel Wurzelbacher, better known as "Joe the Plumber," became a conservative icon in the 2008 presidential race when he challenged then-candidate Obama on tax policy at a campaign event. Republican John McCain even mentioned him during the third presidential debate. Four years later, Wurzelbacher was running for Congress in a quixotic race against 15-term incumbent Democrat Marcy Kaptur, who was a safe bet for re-election. Kaptur handily defeated fellow Democrat Dennis Kucinich in a primary earlier this year.
Ohio 16: Rep. Jim Renacci (R) vs. Rep. Betty Sutton (D)
Ohio's most competitive House race pitted freshman Republican incumbent Jim Renacci against three-term Democratic incumbent Betty Sutton. Since August, the two had benefited from about $2 million in ad spending on their behalf from parties and outside groups, while Renacci's campaign about doubled Sutton's campaign in ad spending. The merged district, located in northeastern Ohio near, but not including, Cleveland, Akron, and Canton, leaned Republican but the race was up for grabs.
Tennessee 4: Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R) vs. Eric Stewart (D)
Republican physician Scott DesJarlais was elected to Congress in the Republican wave of 2010, defeating Democratic Rep. Lincoln Davis. He was a safe bet for re-election until a recent revelation that he had pressured a girlfriend to have an abortion a decade ago. DesJarlais was separated from his wife at the time. The Democratic nominee was Eric Stewart, a state senator. He had begun making an issue of the incident but the impact on DesJarlais' campaign in this rural, conservative district was unclear.
Texas 23: Rep. Francisco Canseco (R) vs. Pete Gallego (D)
Republican Francisco "Quico" Canseco was one of many freshman members elected in the GOP wave of 2010 who found himself in a competitive race for a second term. Canseco was a wealthy commercial real estate developer when he won his third bid for this seat two years ago, defeating Democratic incumbent Ciro Rodriguez. After a legal battle over the redistricting process, Canseco ended up with a district slightly more Democratic -- President Obama carried it in 2008 with 51%, according to the Cook Political Report. The Democratic nominee was Pete Gallego, a state representative who defeated former Rep. Rodriguez in the primary. Hispanics make up 66% of voters.
Utah 4: Rep. Jim Matheson (D) vs. Mia Love (R)
As Utah's only Democratic member of Congress, Jim Matheson was used to close races. He barely squeaked by in 2010 with 50% of the vote. This year may have proved to be Matheson's toughest race yet. His Republican opponent was Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs who would become the first female African-American Republican to serve in Congress. Love is a rising star in the party and was given a prominent speaking role at this year's Republican National Convention. The two were evenly matched in fundraising.
Wisconsin 1: Rep. Paul Ryan (R) vs. Rob Zerban (D)
Being named Mitt Romney's vice presidential running mate did not affect Paul Ryan's chances at getting re-elected to the House. He was a safe bet for against Kenosha County Supervisor Rob Zerban.
Ryan was asked multiple times whether he was hedging his bets by running for re-election while also running for vice president, but the question was irrelevant. Ryan was tapped for the ticket after the deadline had passed to have his name removed from the House ballot. Vice President Joe Biden was in the same position in 2008.
Wisconsin 7: Rep. Sean Duffy (R) vs. Pat Kreitlow (D)
Rep. Sean Duffy was one of the higher-profile freshmen elected in the Republican wave of 2010. He was a former Ashland County district attorney and tea party favorite, but he was probably best known for his work as a professional lumberjack athlete and ESPN commentator and as a cast member on MTV's reality show "The Real World." This year he faced a tough challenge from Pat Kreitlow, a former state senator and former local TV news anchor. Redistricting gave Duffy a more-GOP-leaning district. He also enjoyed a financial advantage. Despite these advantages, this remained the most competitive House race in Wisconsin.
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